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Steve De Young
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Posted: 02 April 2020 at 8:45am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

I just watched an interview with Bob Odenkirk where he said something interesting.  He doesn't see Jimmy as transforming into Saul this season.  He sees it as Jimmy finding a way to deal with all of his darker urges and desires and instincts.  He's basically separated all of them out into this Saul persona.  So he puts on a costume and becomes Saul and lets those have free reign.  Then he comes home, takes off the costume, and is Jimmy, the nice guy.  Both sets of qualities and character traits are him.  But rather than having them sabotage each other and getting in his own way, he's now compartmentalized them.  He even said that he thinks in Breaking Bad the Jimmy persona is still there, though buried deeply.  He pointed to a couple of scenes where he thought Jimmy sort of peeked out.
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Vinny Valenti
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Posted: 02 April 2020 at 11:43am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

It would be very interesting if a portion of Season 6 actually took place _during_ BREAKING BAD, where we see Saul coming home to Kim and reacting to some of the shit that he was a part of (like being a party to poisoning a kid, in which we did see a sliver of Jimmy when he complained to Walt about it).
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 02 April 2020 at 9:00pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

Yeah, I’d say he’s only about 40% Saul, at this point. He has the clothes, some of the swagger, and is getting more and more into unethical and criminal activities, but that’s still nowhere near the guy we met in BREAKING BAD. Something big has to happen to push him over the edge into the pure greed, arrogance, and amorality of the Saul we know and love.

I think you might be on to something, though, Vinny. Maybe not necessarily for a whole season, but seeing the overlap of Jimmy’s personal life with BREAKING BAD seems like a distinct possibility. The problem there is that, if Kim was still around he would certainly be lying to her about his job, because there’s no way she’d go along with Saul getting hooked into Walt and Gus’ drug operations. From what I’m seeing, it can go only one of two ways: She leaves or she dies. She’s Jimmy’s last tether to morality, and I think she needs to be gone for the Saul we know to emerge. Maybe not, though. We’ll see.

I suppose the question becomes, “How much of Saul Goodman as seen in BREAKING BAD is an act, and how much of Jimmy McGill is left?” They could surprise us, but my feeling is that the guy we saw in BB is exactly who Jimmy has become, a nasty criminal who only cares about money and power. I can’t see that guy going home to anyone, especially considering his being “adjusted to completion” in his office (“Barn door open!”), from time to time. 

Of course, as Odenkirk notes, there were a very few flashes of humanity from Saul, especially as BREAKING BAD went forward, and Odenkirk really started finding the nuances of the character. And, more importantly, we got that moment in last season—that between-scenes moment from BREAKING BAD in “Quite a Ride”, where Odenkirk expertly bridged the gap between the Saul we knew and the Jimmy we’ve come to love by showing a glimmer of Jimmy in Saul.



Remember, though, that this is the guy we’re heading toward:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=QDX61C8Rcgw


It really is fascinating to look back and see just how different Odenkirk played the character in the beginning. Aside from the obvious visual differences (age, additional weight, and the beloved mullet/combover), his whole performance is much more one-dimensional and sleazy. His voice is lower and gruffer. You really can tell that the whole character and tragic backstory of Jimmy McGill wasn’t there at the start, and that what you saw was who the character was supposed to be.

That being said, we now get to play the game of retroactively thinking about where Jimmy’s head was at, during that time, and how fully he’d “gotten into character”, so to speak. BCS by its very nature of course adds layers and layers and layers to the story we knew.

It’s going to be fascinating to finally sit down and watch all of BREAKING BAD and BETTER CALL SAUL in their entirety, and to examine the complete journey of this character. Odenkirk has done such a sublime job of humanizing Jimmy McGill and making him a likable character that going back and watching him as Saul Goodman is almost painful. Gilligan and Gould were absolutely right in delaying Jimmy’s transition to Saul for as long as possible, because Jimmy is a much deeper and more interesting character.

I’m also really interested to see where Gene’s story goes. There are still some very important pieces missing from the puzzle, and those pieces will surely also affect our perceptions of those earlier flash-forwards to Gene in Omaha.
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Vinny Valenti
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Posted: 03 April 2020 at 12:19pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

"She’s Jimmy’s last tether to morality, and I think she needs to be gone for the Saul we know to emerge. Maybe not, though. We’ll see."

Yeah, I still think that as things stand, that is still the thread that needs to be cut. But maybe they will surprise us.

Funny thing about that video - it was later put out in a comic http://www.amc.com/shows/better-call-saul/exclusives/client- development-comic"> HERE that Mike was the "PI" that found Walt. (I believe it was said that the comic is actually to be considered to be canon - at least until maybe it gets fleshed out in Season 6 of BCS!). It's a recon that makes complete sense.


Edited by Vinny Valenti on 03 April 2020 at 1:32pm
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 03 April 2020 at 3:29pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

Yeah, as the story goes, Odenkirk was unavailable for the episode where the site of Jane's death is cleaned up, so they invented Mike specifically for that scene, taking that previous one-off mention of Saul's PI and running with it.

This is just another example of how the writers are constantly revisiting earlier episodes of both shows to mine ideas for characters and continuity-building.

The characters of Lalo and Nacho both come from Saul's frantic attempts to appease Walt and Jesse when they kidnap him during his very first appearance in BB, and the whole "friend of the cartel" bit from "JMM" is referencing Saul's use of that phrase (in Spanish) during that scene in the desert.

 

It all ties together.

 

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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 06 April 2020 at 10:48pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

“Bagman”.


This one is great. Directed by none other than Vince Gilligan, who gives us one masterful desert shot after another, this episode is very much the spiritual successor (...or is that predecessor?) to BREAKING BAD’s beloved “Four Days Out” episode.

If one were to summarize the plot, very little actually happens in this episode. But so much is happening under the surface. Lalo’s subtle appeal to Jimmy’s greed and ego to get him to take the job is very effective. The scene where Kim tries to convince Jimmy to not take the job is wrenching. And now Mike considers Kim to be “in the game”, and Lalo knows both who Kim is and that she knows who he is. Which is extremely ominous.

And then we get into the desert, and everything slows down into that hyperdetailed world in which both BB and BCS excel at depicting. It becomes 45 minutes of Jimmy and Mike (and of course anyone paying attention would have guessed that Mike was Jimmy’s mystery savior before he walked into the scene) trying to survive in the desert. 

As it always goes with this show, the details matter. We get that telling shot of Mike taking the gas cap from Jimmy’s Esteem, which obviously means that Mike has been using a GPS tracker. More importantly, the beloved Esteem meets its demise in this episode, and it’s nearly as sad a moment as when Walt and Jesse crushed their iconic RV. 

But it doesn’t end there. This episode is full of subtle-yet-important symbolism, all of which shows Jimmy McGil being stripped away, and Saul Goodman emerging from his desert trek as a Friend of The Cartel. The Esteem is abandoned, making room for Saul Goodman’s eventual Cadillac. Kim’s gift to Jimmy—the “World’s (2nd) Best Lawyer (again)” tumbler—ends up with bullet holes. Jimmy’s Davis & Main water bottle is used to store his urine. Most importantly, Mike offers Jimmy a space blanket, which he refuses (because it’s obviously a reminder of Chuck), but he later uses it as a weapon to lure out the bandits hunting them, so Mike can snipe them. And then Jimmy discards the blanket, which Mike trods on before it just...blows away. Stunning visual storytelling that’s so expressive of character, and is in many ways a culmination of the past five years of character development.

And Mike’s great speech about why he does what he does brings to mind Walter White. Except that Mike really IS doing what he does entirely for the sake of his family, whereas Walt often just used that line as justification for his own power-lust.

I agree with Alan Sepinwall’s review of this episode—BREAKING BAD may have had the more innately exciting and interesting subject matter, but BETTER CALL SAUL is much more refined at telling brilliant stories in the world of Albuquerque. This team has been cranking out top-notch television for over a decade, now, and their craft has become so refined that it appears almost like casual brilliance, rather than incredibly hard work on their part.


Edited by Greg Kirkman on 06 April 2020 at 10:56pm
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 07 April 2020 at 12:27am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

This episode just oozed Breaking Bad in tone and timbre, not just in the lush (but simultaneously sparse) visuals and time lapses but in the dark comedy aspects as well -- particularly that of BB's first season  Cowering in the middle of a gunfight and managing to survive by sheer luck not to mention the tumbling vehicle just barely missing (a completely oblivious) Jimmy were also very Walt-esque.   I swear Jimmy was wearing his tighty-whities on his head to protect him from sunstroke.   Mike's crash course to Jimmy in desert survival was very Walt and Jesse in it's teacher-and-stubborn-student dynamic ("That won't work").   The unceremonious dumping of the Estim (pun intended) echoed the destruction of the RV.  Jimmy's last ditch plan as bait felt like something Walter would have cooked up.  Kim confronting Lalo seemed like a funhouse mirror version of Skylar meeting Jesse for the first time.  The constant stream of good luck balanced out by rotten luck, like the broken water bottle also harkens back to the black comedy elements of BB.

Symbolism abounds.   The Davis & Main water bottle-turned-life-saving-piss jug resonantes on so many levels it's practically shaking the floor.   We have the safe gift job at D&M in Season 2 that Jimmy basically pissed away, not to mention a little bit of karmic payback for Jimmy's hooker prank on Howard that involved Cliff Davis.   There's even links to Jimmy's community service -- amongst the roadside trash under the bridges were, erm... yellow bottles of Evian, so to speak (think long distance truckers who don't want to stop).   Deep yellows have always been Jimmy's spirit colour in this series -- Jimmy having to drink his own yellow (yecch) to survive is a reflection of the Saul Goodman persona created to compartmentalize his pain and guilt over Chuck's death.   Notice that he's repulsed by his pee for most of the episode and avoids drinking it, but at the end when he finally has no other choice he doesn't seem all that bothered by it -- metaphorically he's internalized the Saul Goodman persona and comes to terms with it.

I just about fell off my chair when Mike pulled out a space blanket and wrapped himself in it in a very Chuck-like way.   Ironic then that it's the same space blanket that ultimately helps save Jimmy's life!

Loved this episode.
 


Edited by Rob Ocelot on 07 April 2020 at 12:32am
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Brian Miller
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Posted: 07 April 2020 at 9:10am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

I’ve not finished the episode yet, so I’ve not read your comments yet,
but I have a couple of questions re: things Mike did.

Why did he remove the gas cap?

What was the purpose of putting that water in the bowl surrounded by
the grass then covered with the black thing?
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Brian Miller
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Posted: 07 April 2020 at 9:24am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Ok. So I see Greg had already supplied the answer to the gas cap, and
yes, I remember it now.
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Brian Miller
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Posted: 07 April 2020 at 9:26am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

Well, with Kim’s actions in this episode, I no longer have the hope she
survives the flashback part of this show. Dammit.
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Vinny Valenti
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Posted: 07 April 2020 at 12:28pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

*flashforward!* Not being pedantic, that actually confused me for a moment.

This episode was significant also because this is the first time a member of the McGill side of the show met somebody on the Mike side*.

*Yes, Mike met Chuck once, but that was under false pretenses and more of a lighthearted moment. The meeting of Kim and Lalo is bound to have consequences.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 07 April 2020 at 3:28pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

Rhea Seehorn is only in this episode for a short time, but she knocks her scenes out of the park in terms of depicting just how afraid and vulnerable Kim feels. She takes pains to emphasize her concerns--"I don't like this. I don't want you to do it."--and Jimmy goes and does it anyway.

Her meeting with Lalo also underscores just how alien the cartel half of the show is to the Jimmy half. She is completely unprepared for dealing with a monster like Lalo, whereas Mike has been swimming with sharks for the entire series, and Jimmy has also gotten more and more comfortable in that world. Now that he's had his first real taste of cartel-related violence (and gotten a big payday), he'll be even more comfortable with it.

More importantly, Jimmy and Kim got married specifically to protect each other, but the marriage may now actively put her in danger just for being associated with him.

As Peter Gould recently noted, Jimmy and Kim ironically partnered up (the ill-fated Wexler/McGill shared office space) for love, and got married for business reasons. And we'll soon see what the outcome of it all ends up being.

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